Ang Jowa is a movie filled with dramatic situations. In its rather short runtime, it manages to fit in several betrayals, a couple of tearful goodbyes, and a big death scene. In spite of all that, the movie fails to generate much emotion, stuck as it is with a bunch of ill-defined characters and weak storytelling. Though there is a trace of something interesting in the movie, the rest of the production is so poorly done that it never gets the chance to take off.
The movie begins with Don (Zander Olivares) breaking up with his boyfriend Orlando (Miguel Alcantara). It turns out that Don has a girlfriend, Annie (Adriana Gomez), who predates his arrangement with Orlando. But when times get tough for Don, he returns to Orlando. Don tries to keep the two sides of his life separate, but Annie is becoming increasingly suspicious, and Orlando seems intent on keeping Don all to himself. Things get even more complicated when another woman enters this already strained triangle, Don's lecherous ways dragging him into more trouble.
The movie doesn't do a whole lot to flesh out its characters. That makes all the conflict that takes place a little baffling. It's just weird to see all these people fight over this one guy who doesn't seem to be much more than a deadbeat moron. The movie then lurches into an equally bewildering third act that introduces a new conflict and makes the characters completely reprehensible in their callousness. The film offers little indication that the characters feel any sympathy for a pregnant woman who just died, and immediately follows that scene with those characters having sex.
At one point in the movie, it presents an intriguing, modern solution to the central conflict, but it doesn't follow through. In the end, it abandons all sense and destroys its characters to achieve the semblance of a happy ending. It does all this with the typically poor production values associated with this particular milieu. Sound continuity is virtually nonexistent, and little attention is paid to how characters enter and leave a scene.
The acting is similarly bad. With the characters so lightly written, it's left to the actors to carry all of the drama. Unfortunately, the cast isn't up to the task. Zander Olivares offers no personality to his character, expressing no hint of emotion as he goes through his struggles. The other actors are more capable of dramatic expression, but it would be a stretch to call any of it good. They tend to overact when given the chance, quickly separating their performance from reality.
There is a hint of something impressive lurking in the eaves of Ang Jowa. Behind all the empty yelling and crying, there’s a trace of criticism aimed at the idealization of the kind of relationships portrayed in movies of its ilk. Or I might just be looking really hard for things to like in this movie. In either case, the lackluster production and the lazy plotting keep the movie from ever turning that into anything worth watching.